Alan Abrahams, AKA Portable, AKA Bodycode, has been in motion his whole life—growing up in South Africa, coming of age in London, decamping to Berlin and finally settling in Lisbon—and his deeply syncopated brand of electronic dance music has evolved with every step of the journey.
His formative years were spent in an impoverished Cape Town township ironically tagged “Beverly Hills”, and to the backbeat of the first wave of Chicago house records he emerged out of the ruins of a post-apartheid South Africa. Inspired musically, yet frustrated geographically, he relocated to London in 1997.
In London, Abrahams began recording as Portable, the experimental, atmospheric project that acts as a living link between the indigenous sounds of his youth, and those first records whose futuristic aesthetic broadened his horizons.
He founded the Süd Electronic label with his partner Lerato and released a string of 12″ releases. A succession of full-length albums followed – Cycling and Futuristic Experiments #005 on Background, Version on ~scape records, and the Powers of Ten for Süd Electronic in 2007. A rich and expansive record, Powers of Ten further explored his African heritage through a new lexicon of sonic influences, acquired from his home base in Portugal.
Upon moving to Lisbon, Abrahams conceived Bodycode, a more dancefloor-centric project that complements Portable’s headier textures with a more body-moving aesthetic. As Bodycode, Abrahams harnesses his desire to “unlock the psyche via the body,” layering tech-funk with wisps of melody, heady effects, and a liberal wash of otherworldly vocal samples. Somewhere between the beats for the body and melody for the soul, Abrahams believes, lies the Bodycode.
The result was Bodycode’s first full-length, The Conservation of Electric Charge, a whirlwind of percussive, multi-layered techno released on Spectral Sound in 2006. After a three-year absence, Abrahams resurrected the moniker for second Spectral full-length, 2009’s Immune, an intricately textured album of vocal-laced house. “I just felt it a good time for a warm, nurturing aesthetic,” says Abrahams of Bodycode’s shift in tone, “We need that right now.”
With forthcoming 12″ releases for Perlon, Karat, and Naif, and with Portable’s long-awaited full-length follow up slated for early next year, 2010 and 2011 will continue to witness Alan Abrahams exploring the experimental outer reaches and the innermost dancefloor sensibilities of both Portable, and Bodycode.